56-year-old Vijay Singh in contention for a record-shattering win at The Honda Classic
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Written by Mike McAllister @PGATOUR_MikeMc
Vijay Singh gets up-and-down for birdie at Honda
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – It was just last week that Vijay Singh turned 56 years old. No word on how he celebrated, but it’s doubtful any present could be better than the one he might give himself Sunday.
Singh is just 18 holes away from becoming the oldest winner in PGA TOUR history, as his 5-under 65 in Saturday’s third round of The Honda Classic put him within one shot of 54-hole leader Wyndham Clark. The duo will be in the final group Sunday with a 1:35 p.m. ET tee time..
Sam Snead currently has the record for oldest winner, at 52 years, 10 months, 8 days when he won the 1965 Greater Greensboro Open. Just six other players have won PGA TOUR events in their 50s, the most recent being Davis Love III, who was 51 when he won the Wyndham Championship in 2015.
Singh, of course, could shatter Snead’s record by more than three years. He understands the enormous challenge that awaits him Sunday.
“I’m physically quite capable of doing it,” Singh said. “Mentally, I’m going to go out there and see how my mind works. If I just don’t let anything interfere, I think I can do it.”
It’s been 11 years since Singh’s last TOUR win, the 2008 Deutsche Bank Championship – the second of his back-to-back wins in the FedExCup Playoffs that year that helped seal his FedExCup title. But he does have recent success on PGA TOUR Champions, with four career victories, including three in 2018 – including the Constellation SENIOR PLAYERS Championship and the Charles Schwab Cup Championship.
Asked what he might be able to draw from those wins, Singh replied: “Playing the Champions Tour, you’ve got to make a lot of birdies. It’s all about making a lot of putts, a lot of birdies there. That brings, I guess, aggression out of you, and you go out there and you know you have to make birdies.
“It’s just like the Web kids coming over here. They feel the same way – they’re going to make a ton of birdies. I think anything I take away, it’s that. You’ve got to score well on the Champions Tour, just like you’ve got to score well here.”
Just three years ago, Singh finished T-6 at The Honda Classic, shooting four rounds of par or better. Four months later, he was runner-up at the 2016 Quicken Loans National, finishing with a final-round 65.
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That’s the last time he’s had a top-10 finish on TOUR. Since then, he’s made 36 starts on the PGA TOUR, with 22 missed cuts. That includes both of his starts this season.
But just when it appeared his days as a Sunday contender were done, Singh has found his game again in the first 54 holes this week.
“Today I played really well,” Singh said after his six-birdie, one-bogey round. “Today I played like I know how. I just let it go and the swing was a lot more freer. If I did what I did today – this is how I used to play. I don’t know what I found, but I’m going to see if it’s still there tomorrow.”
Putting has been his nemesis the last decade – the last time he ranked inside the top 100 in Strokes Gained: Putting was in 2006, when he was 99th in that category – but he ranks inside the top 25 (T-24) in the field this week, and he had a terrific putting day Saturday. He made all 16 putts inside 10 feet, including all four in the 5-10 foot range.
He has a new long putter that he put into play recently and “that kind of inspired me, and I’m putting really well with it.” Added Singh: “There is no tension in my body. Putting has been great this week. Standing over the putts, there’s no fidgeting feelings or anything like that. I guarantee if I had a short putter, I would feel a little tense and anxious, but this long putter, I felt pretty much nothing ….
“Putting is another thing that kind of stopped me from scoring well, and this week I made a lot of putts with it, and I hope I can do that again tomorrow.”
Singh, of course, is long fabled for his tireless work ethic, but even those long hours on the range can’t guarantee he’s up to the rigors of a stress-filled Sunday.
He does have one suggestion to solve that.
“That should give me a cart tomorrow,” Singh joked. “I deserve one.”
Don’t worry, Vijay. If you win The Honda Classic, they’ll give you something much more valuable.